The cinematography of the Dominican Republic is not particularly well-known, but in this mysterious combination of drama and thriller, two of the most famous filmmakers there were in front of and behind the camera. Jose Maria Cabral is the leader of the younger generation of filmmakers from the island first seen and directed by Christopher Columbus when he arrived in the new world, and he wrote and directed a film starring their most famous actor and director of the middle generation, Felix German. “The Projectionist” can be seen, somewhat symbolically, as a kind of passing on the baton from one generation to the next, because Germano’s character Eliseo is a middle-aged projectionist who shows films around the province.
And on good old celluloid tape, because not only does the man have no money for modern DCP, but he is completely obsessed with those old films. In particular, Eliseo is obsessed with an old mysterious film strip that contains footage of a young, often naked woman, and she seems to be his only company. Eliseo is a nervous loner, a weirdo who has almost nothing but an old scrap of a truck that he drives from village to village, and after his tapes of a mysterious woman are burned, he will head into the countryside to find the woman from the tape. But instead of her, he will find another woman, the vagabond Rubi, who will become his unexpected companion and partner in his bizarre obsession.
It’s funny that Eliseo plays films in those villages that were actually shot by Felix German, that is, the actor and director who embodied Eliseo, and this unusual stylized and exotic combination of a road movie and a psychological drama and thriller had much more potential than what eventually delivered. It turned towards the end of “The Projectionist” into a rather nightmarish and chaotic film with a completely unexpected final twist. By the end, Eliseo will even turn into a bizarre version of a private investigator who, at any cost, has decided to discover the fate of the woman from the filmstrip he inherited from his late father, also a projectionist and photographer from whom he inherited the job. In the end, the Dominican Oscar contender wasn’t really bad at all.